NEW YORK: Hillary Clinton blames Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had a "personal beef" against her, and a late-hour FBI intervention over her email scandal for her loss to Donald Trump in the US election, a newspaper reported Friday.
Clinton, 69, has kept a low profile in the weeks since her shock defeat to the Republican billionaire, but made the remarks to campaign donors in Manhattan on Thursday night, The New York Times reported.
The Democratic former secretary of state won the popular vote by more than 2.7 million ballots but lost the crucial Electoral College by 232 to 306.
Trump walked away with the election because he won a string of swing states. Crucially his wins in three of those states, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, amounted to a combined total of around 100,000 votes.
The Times said Clinton told donors that a letter from FBI director James Comey revisiting her private server scandal dating back to her time as secretary of state, 10 days before the election, cost her close races in several states.
"Swing-state voters made their decisions in the final days breaking against me because of the FBI letter from Director Comey," the Times quoted her as saying.
She said the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and her campaign chairman John Podesta's emails stemmed from Putin's "personal beef" against her, the newspaper reported.
Clinton said the reason was her accusation that Russia's 2011 parliamentary elections were rigged.
"Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election," the Times quoted her as saying.
On Thursday, Podesta lashed out at the FBI in a scathing op-ed published in The Washington Post, slamming the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its "failure" to adequately respond to the Democratic Party email hacks.
An investigation published by the Times earlier this week said that when the FBI discovered the hack in September 2015, it left phone messages with the DNC "help desk" but did not warn senior Democratic officials or visit in person.
"Comparing the FBI's massive response to the overblown email scandal with the seemingly lackadaisical response to the very real Russian plot to subvert a national election shows that something is deeply broken at the FBI," he wrote.
In the immediate aftermath of the election, however, some Democrats including advisers close to her husband, former president Bill Clinton, directed blame at Clinton's own campaign.
The campaign reportedly ignored calls from Bill Clinton to spend more time focusing on disaffected white, working class voters -- a key demographic that elected Bill Clinton twice and backed Trump.
Clinton did not visit Wisconsin as the Democratic nominee and only pushed late into Michigan after polls showed the race tightening.